The Mobile Police Department Narcotics and Vice Unit arrested 21 individuals at the R.V. Taylor Housing Community and the surrounding area Friday afternoon, executing a mission they called “Operation ReVitalize.”
According to officials, the MPD received numerous complaints of drug activity in this particular area and logged 435 reports of narcotic law violations from Jan. 1, 2012 to June 30, 2014, in the 1300 block of Arlington Street, plus the Thomas James and R.V. Taylor communities.
In addition to drug use, MPD Police Chief James Barber said there have been two homicides and 42 individuals shot in the area.
“If we’re going to be the safest city, we’ll have to deal with those locations,” he said. “So there’s a concentrated effort by the police department, not to just go in with a lot of manpower, but to identify exactly who is responsible and which locations within those hot spots are responsible.”
The goal of Operation ReVitalize was to execute 12 search warrants while attempting to locate 21 people, who together have a total of 35 cases of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.
Barber said the multi-phase operation has been ongoing for two to three months and began with controlled narcotics purchasing at target residents, apartments and businesses.
“Twenty one people have sold drugs to us,” MPD spokeswoman Ashley Rains said. “We bought marijuana, spice, cocaine and prescription drugs.”
Members of the Mobile County Street Enforcement Narcotics Team, SWAT, U.S. Marshals Service and the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office assisted the MPD in successfully executing the operation.
Barber said the mission was purposefully timed around 1.p.m., while children were in school, to decrease the potential for an impact to youth. Barber reported no injuries or damaged property during the raid.
After the two-phase operation was complete, 21 people were arrested, processed and transported to Mobile County Metro Jail. Of those 21 individuals, 10 were original targets of the operation, Rains said.
“[It was] highly successful considering it was a pretty dangerous operation,” Rains said.
Mobile’s newly appointed director of public safety, Richard Landolt, was present during the raid, marking the first major drug-related operation of his current tenure.
“We captured a lot of folks and disrupted some networks here, and that’s what it’s all about,” Landolt said.
The detailed results of Operation ReVitalize will be released as they are finalized. Barber said the MPD will be following up in cooperation with the Public Housing Board in order to remove people who are committing criminal crimes in these residences.
“We’re not looking for caches of drugs,” Barber said. “What we’re looking to do is identify the specific locations that drugs were being sold from and who is responsible for it, as well as to deal with the Housing Board in removing these people from that community.”
Updated at 6:44 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2014, to include the total number of arrests.